A woman has revealed she had to have her toe amputated and almost died from toxic shock syndrome after she contracted the life-threatening bacterial infection from a pedicure.
Kandis Saville-Parsons, a mom from Alberta, Canada, shared her horrifying story with Women’s Health, recalling how her decision to treat herself with a pedicure on July 24, 2018, led to her fighting for her life in the hospital.
The former nurse, who has type 1 diabetes and is more prone to foot injuries from poor circulation, was accidentally cut with a nail file during the salon visit. Her only passing concern at the time was that the injury on her big toe wouldn’t heal properly.
Hospitalized: Kandis Saville-Parsons, a mom from Alberta, Canada, suffered a cut on her big toe during a pedicure on July 24, 2018, that led to a life-threatening infection
Understanding that accidents happen, she wiped up the blood, had her toe wrapped, and let the technician paint finish painting her nails.
Saville-Parsons said her toe started to turn red and swell as soon as she got home, but she still didn’t think anything of it. When she woke up the next morning, her big toe was nearly double its size and clearly infected.
When she went to the emergency room, her blood was taken and staffers swabbed the wound for a bacteria culture, the results of which would take about a day or two to come back.
‘I was put on a strong antibiotic and sent home on IV therapy. They said to come back if it got any worse,’ she recalled. ‘When I asked them what “worse” meant, they told me to come back if my toe turned…black. And that night, it did.
‘My temperature also skyrocketed to almost 106 degrees Fahrenheit. My fever was so bad that I was shaking and my teeth were chattering. I had terrible brain fog and, naturally, was totally panicked. We hurried back to the hospital.’
Added risk: The former nurse has type 1 diabetes and is more prone to foot injuries from poor circulation. Her injured big toe started to get red and swell after her pedicure
Scary: The next day, her infected toe was swollen to nearly twice its size and she rushed to the emergency room, where she was given antibiotics and sent home
At the hospital, a specialist determined that she needed her toe amputated because the infection had moved to her bone. She had the surgery that night and then was given more antibiotics before she was sent home to recover.
However, Saville-Parsons’ nightmare was far from over. Weeks after the amputation, her body started to swell, her back hurt, and she struggled to urinate.
She returned to the hospital in mid-September and further tests revealed she had high levels of creatine, which is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. Generally, a high serum creatinine level means the kidneys aren’t working well.
Saville-Parsons was readmitted into the hospital and as her creatine levels rose, it became evident that her kidneys were failing, but doctors couldn’t figure out why.
She was diagnosed with acute tubular necrosis (ATN), a disorder involving damage to the tubule cells of the kidney that can lead to acute kidney failure. Her kidney function continued to worsen, even with dialysis.
‘I started to become really bloated, and then I completely stopped peeing. Even with the help of a catheter, I couldn’t get anything out,’ she recalled.
Nightmare: Saville-Parsons’ toe turned black that night, and when she returned to the hospital, she had to have her toe amputated because the infection had moved to the bone
Life-threatening: After the amputation, she was sent home to recover. Weeks later, she was readmitted to the hospital with kidney failure
Doctors gave her a full-body exam to try and figure out what was wrong with her. She had red rashes all over her body and the skin was peeling inside her belly button.
Saville-Parsons remembers the moment the doctor said: ‘Holy crap. You have toxic shock syndrome.’
She was officially diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome (TSS) on October 24, 2018 — three months after her toe was cut during her pedicure.
TSS is a highly-dangerous bacterial infection that is typically associated with tampon use in menstruating women, but it can affect anyone, even men.
It occurs when usually harmless staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and release dangerous toxins.
‘Toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone, including men, children, and postmenopausal women,’ according to the Mayo Clinic. ‘Risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include skin wounds, surgery, and the use of tampons and other devices, such as menstrual cups, contraceptive sponges, or diaphragms.’
Terrifying: Three months after her pedicure, she was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a highly-dangerous bacterial infection that developed from her cut
Effects: Saville-Parsons, pictured with her son Kao, had her name put on the kidney transplant list and she started dialysis three times a week, which she has been doing for the last two years
The incidence of TSS, which is extremely rare, is estimated to be around 0.8 to 3.4 per 100,000 in the United States.
Saville-Parsons finally had a diagnosis, but her kidneys were too damaged to heal. Her name was put on the kidney transplant list and she immediately started dialysis three times a week, which she has been doing for the last two years.
She suffers from migraines as well as nausea and vomiting, but she reminds herself to keep fighting for her son, Kao, and husband, Kurt.
Saville-Parsons noted that this was a ‘rare and freaky occurrence,’ but it could have been prevented. She wishes that she stayed in the hospital that first visit and advocated for more answers instead of toughing it out at home.
‘As someone living with diabetes, I knew that getting someone to work on my feet was risky because I’m at a much higher risk of having a serious foot infection,’ she admitted.
‘But I never expected that I would lose a toe and go into kidney failure just because I was trying to take a breather in order to be a better mom and wife.’
What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?
Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections. Often toxic shock syndrome results from toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, but the condition may also be caused by toxins produced by group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria.
Toxic shock syndrome can affect anyone, including men, children and postmenopausal women. Risk factors for toxic shock syndrome include skin wounds, surgery, and the use of tampons and other devices, such as menstrual cups, contraceptive sponges or diaphragms.
Toxic shock syndrome has been associated with:
- Having cuts or burns on your skin
- Having had recent surgery
- Using contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, superabsorbent tampons or menstrual cups
- Having a viral infection, such as the flu or chickenpox
Possible signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:
- A sudden high fever
- Low blood pressure
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- A rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on your palms and soles
- Muscle aches
- Redness of your eyes, mouth and throat
- Seizures Headaches
Source: Mayo Clinic